A Morphus Morphology

a short history of linguistics
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   Short History of Linguistics R H Robins Professor o General Linguistics in the University o London C [ ] I> c J r H J [ ][ ] CJ LONGM N I   ·· LONGMAN GROUP LIMITED London Associated companies branches and representatives throughout the world © R H. Robins 1967 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be re- produced stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or y any means-electronic mechanical photocopying recording or otherwise-without the prior permission of the copyright owner First published 1967 Third impression 1976 ISBN 0 582 52397 4 Printed in Great Britain by Lowe Brydone Printers) Ltd; Thetford, Norfolk   reface In this book I have attempted to give a brief account of the history of linguistic studies up to the present day. or the reasons stated in the first chapter, the narrative is organized around the history of linguistics in Europe, but it is my hope that due notice has been taken of the contributions that the subject has drawn from work srcinating outside the European continent. The history of linguistics is now widely recognized as a\field for teaching and research, and it has been incorporated into the syllabus of courses in linguistics in a number of universities· in Great Britain and elsewhere. The interest currently being shown by linguists in past developments and in the earlier history of their subject is in itself a sign of ·the· maturity of l.inguistics s an academic discipli le, quite apart. from any practical applications of linguistic science. It is my hope that the present book will go some part of the way towards fulfilling teachers' and students' needs in this field, both in deepening their appreciation of what has been done in the study of language and in suggesting profitable areas of further research. In venturing on a book of this scope, one is at once made conscious of a number of difficulties. In the first place, no one person can achieve anything like equal familiarity with the entire range of llnguistic work that such an undertaking requires of him. Secondly, the extent, the nature, and the present state of the source material varies widely from one period to another. There are lamentable gaps in our knowledge of some of the early pioneers of linguistics, while in the contemporary history of current trends the problem is an opposite one, that of trying to select from the great mass of published material that which is likely to be of permanent historical significance. Moreover, different periods vary greatly in the amount of basic research already undertaken; quite a lot has been written on the Greco-Roman era of linguistics, and a number of recent historical treatments have followed the inspiration of  Vi PREF CE Pedersen s important Linguistic science in the nineteenth century Chomsky has recently drawn attention to some striking anticipations of present-day topics in the works of certain seventeenth-century writers; studies of mediaeval and Renaissance work within the various branches of knowledge comprised by general linguistics are now being taken in hand, but a great deal remains to be done before a really satisfactory full-scale historical treatment of the years linking western antiquity with the modern world can be envisaged. f one looks outside Europe to the linguistic scholarship on which Europeans drew so heavily and so beneficially, the need for editions and commentaries is no less urgent. Much of Chinese, Arabic, and Indian linguistic work has been extensively studied already, but largely from the standpoint of its place in the cultural and literary history of the peoples themselves. Scholarly treatments that relate individual writings in these fields to current linguistic theoryand practice will fill a ~ - siderable gap in our understanding of the world s cultural history. For all these reasons, in addition to the inadequacy of the author s knowledge and abilities in relation to this self-imposed task, readers are likely to find substantial grounds for disagreement and disappointment with what is here written. But if this book should stimulate further detailed research into our sources for the history of linguistics, it will have achieved a part of its purpose . i:n trying to cover so wide an area, one is made more than usuallyaware of one s debt to contemporary and to earlier scholars who have laboured in this field. This debt is partially acknowledged in the bibliographical references that follow each chapter. More personally, I am happy to express my thanks. to colleagues in London and elsewhere whom I have consulted, and in particular to Professor David Abercrombie, for his painstaking help in reading and checking the text of this book and for his important comments and corrections, and to those who have been kind enough to read drafts of chapters dealing with topics in which they are far better qualified than I am: Dr. Theodora Bynon, Mrs. Vivian Salmon, and Mr. K. L. Speyer. The book is the better for their help and advice; I remain responsible for any remaining errors and blemishes. Finally, I have been greatly assisted by the kindness and patience of my wife, who read through the entire book in typescript, making numerous valuable suggestions on diverse points of detail. R H ROBINS
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